Posts filed under ‘NCLEX’

How I passed the NCLEX-RN

The two most popular posts on my blog have been one about Hillary Clinton and another about my experience taking the NCLEX.  Well, since the one thing the world doesn’t need more of is one more person blogging about politics, especially someone who hates politics.  I thought I would make another post about the NCLEX.  Sorry to those of you who could care less.

My first tip is for people trying to pick a nursing school.  Get on-line and look up their passing average for the NCLEX.  I think how well your school prepares you for the ultimate test has a lot to do with you passing.  I believe my school did an excellent job preparing me for the NCLEX.  In 2006 my school’s average rate was 93%.  I would love to know what it is now because they now require all students to take a practice HESI exam every 9 weeks.  I work with several girls who all went to the same school and none of them have passed boards after several tries.  They are all REALLY smart, but the school just did not prepare them for the NCLEX.

For those who are not required to take the HESI, let me clue you in.  It’s basicly a longer harder version of the NCLEX.  If you can pass the HESI you are supposed to be able to pass the NCLEX.  It is also on a computer and the questions are just as hard, if not harder.  I believe a full length HESI is around 300 questions.  We took a short version every 9 weeks at the end of each term.  We also had a full length HESI before graduation that we were required to pass before graduation.

My second tip is to practice, Practice, PRACTICE!!  We were required to buy this book for school.  It comes with a computer disk with practice questions on it.  We were required to do a certain number of practice questions while we were in school, and we had to get over 80% correct or we had to keep doing them over and over again.  The book is not broken down by subject, the point is to get your brain used to jumping from subject to subject.

This is the only book I studied from for the NCLEX.  After graduation I took this book everywhere.  To the dog park, training classes for work, on my lunch break from work.  Every spare minute I had I was doing practice questions.  At home I would put the CD in my laptop and do practice questions on commercial breaks while watching TV.  I would mute the TV and do questions until my show came back on.

The disk has several options.  You can break the questions down into subjects, or have them mixed together.  You can do one question at a time, meaning it tells you the correct answer as soon as you pick your answer.  You can take 10 question quizes and then get the answers at the end.  Or you can take 100 question tests.

I did a little bit of each.  I liked getting the answer as soon as I answered the questions because I would still be thinking about why I answered the question the way I did when the correct answer came up.  However, the 100 question test builds up your endurance.  After doing several of these 100 questions will fly by in no time.

For the most part I did tests with the subjects all mixed together.  But I also  did tests with questions from each section individually.  You can also choose to do every single practice question from each subject.  The most important one for this option is the prioritizing section.  There aren’t that many questions in that section on the disk, but it will teach you to think like the NCLEX people think.  Do them ALL!!  I promise it will help on test day.

That is what you need to pass the boards.  You don’t need to know everything word for word out of the text book.  You need to be able to pick out the most important part of the question and figure out what answer it is pointing too.

Almost EVERY SINGLE  QUESTION on the NCLEX exam was about something I had never even HEARD of before, let alone knew anything about.  It was all about knowing what they were looking for,, and what the question was trying to get me to think about.

Some big things that I and others have been tested on very strongly:

1. Stages of isolation.  I had a question wanting to know what kind of isolation I would put a patient with some plague I had never heard of before in.  Well, obviously if it has the word PLAGUE in it, it is bad.  They are in the strongest isolation possible.

2.  I had a TON of those mark all answers that are correct questions.  ICKKK!!  MAJOR ICCCKKK!!  I SUCK at these because I can always talk myself into marking them all.  You can pick all of the questions like these from the disk and do just them.  DO THEM ALL!!!  Out of the 75 quesitons I got on the NCLEX I had at least 7 of those dumb things.  My other advice on these, don’t spend too much time on them.  Just pick the answers that pop out at you as correct and move on.  That way you don’t talk yourself into marking them all.

3.  And of course, the lovely priority questions.  Yes, it’s true, there are tons of these.  Remember  your ABC’s, but also remember that sometimes ABC’s aren’t always what they are looking for.  If all of your patients are stable who do you see first??

4.  Oh, something else I had a lot of.  Study the Black, Red, Yellow, Green triage system.  I couldn’t find a great website about this, so hopefully you can find something better in your nursing books.

Three or Four days before boards cut back on studying and try to relax and take some time to let your brain rest.  Spend some time with your family, go see a funny movie, get out of the house.  I still did a few questions a day, but not hundreds a day like the weeks before.   Drive by the testing center the day before so you aren’t stressed about finding it the next morning.  Get a good nights sleep.  Wake up early so you don’t have to rush to get there.  The Sunday before my NCLEX I went to church and had an amazing experience.  I had been so stressed before then that I would almost retch every time I thought about the test.  At church this amazing peace swept over me and I just KNEW I was going to pass.  I hope you can have this feeling going into boards.

In the front of the book are tips on studying for boards and tips on what to look for in the questions.  I read through the tips on what to look for chapter the day before, just as a refresher.

Oh, and our school told us to take snacks and water to the test.  Don’t, you will have to lock everything up and can’t get back in your locker until the test is over.  Take the ear plugs they offer even if you think you won’t need them.  There were others in the room taking court recording tests, so people were typing a mile a minute all around me and it was distracting.

Let me know if you have any questions.  And GOOD LUCK!!!  I hope you will have the letters RN (or LPN) after your name soon!

June 4, 2008 at 10:48 pm 37 comments

Melissa…..RN!!!

So, I passed my boards.  It’s official, I’m a RN!!   Kind of scary.   I found out around lunch time at work the day after my test that I had passed.  I wasn’t planning on checking the website until I got home, that way if I failed I could melt into a puddle in private.  But, everyone at work was driving me crazy wanting me to check, so I did.  When I walked out of the corner where the computer was and told everyone I passed they all went crazy.  Hugs, screaming, and high fives.  It was awesome and I’m so glad I checked at work now.  Only fellow nurses can understand how that feels, so I’m glad I got to celebrate with my colleagues.  I’m going to have at least one more week of orientation before I am on my own.  We’ll see how this next week goes.  Thanks to everyone for your support through school and the stress of getting ready for boards!

October 14, 2007 at 10:08 pm 1 comment

My NCLEX Experience

So, I’m done.  The test is over.  Now the waiting begins.  I drove to Indianapolis yesterday around dinner time.  I swung by the testing center to make sure I could find it easily.  Then I headed to my aunts house where we watched Dancing with the Stars and I headed to bead.  I didn’t sleep well, one of those nights where you are in and out of sleep worried that you aren’t going to wake up in time.  So, since I didn’t really sleep I was up at 6:30.  I got ready, threw on some cumfy clothes and headed to the test.  I stopped and got some breakfast and snacks that I ended up not needing.  I got to the test center right on time and there were 4 or 5 of us on the elevator all heading to take our NCLEX.  Once we got to the Pearson testing center the lady at the desk was really nice.  We were all given directions, pretty much what isn’t allowed during the test.  Then we had to show our ID and ATT, sign our signature on an electronic pad, have our fingerprint taken twice, and get our picture taken.  High security for us law breaking nurses, ya know.  Then another lady called my name, checked my ID again and took my finger print again.  She went over the directions with me again, gave me a white board and marker, and walked me to my seat.  I then had to reread the directions again on the computer and click that I understood.  Then I had like a 5 question tutorial to make sure I knew how to take the test.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, said a quick prayer, and hit next for the real test to start.  Supposedly the first question is easy to get you off to a good start and help you start moving up in difficulty.  Yeah, I don’t remember what that first question was, but I had never heard of the disease.  Same with the next question, not good.  I wouldn’t say that any of the questions were easy, but I was pretty sure on quite a few of them.  I had several questions about rare diseases that I will probably never see.  I also had a lot of priority questions were all of the answers were patients who needed to be seen NOW and I had to choose who I would see first.  Then other questions were none the patients really had anything pressing going on I had to pick who to see first.  None, of the patients need anything right now?? Take a break while you can!!  Was what I wanted to answer.  Anyway, I got to 75 questions and the screen went blank for a second, just sitting there thinking, thinking, thinking……  At that point I was BEGGING the computer to shut off because I knew my brain was fading.  Thankfully, it finally popped up a screen telling my test was over and then had me complete a survey about 10 questions long about my test experience.  So, it’s over.  I feel pretty good about it, but who knows.  Hopefully the results are up sooner rather than later.

How I felt during the NCLEX

October 10, 2007 at 1:11 am 3 comments

Preparing to take the NCLEX

The NCLEX is the test that all RNs must pass in order to be licensed by their state.  It is a computerized test that bases your next question on whether you got the previous question right or wrong.  If you got it correct the next question is harder, if you got it wrong it gets easier.  However, you must maintain an average level of difficulty in order to pass.  The test shuts off anywhere from 75 to 265 questions based on how long it takes the computer to decide if you passed or not.  No matter what state you are getting licensed in, you must take this test, but never have to take it again (THANK GOD!).  I have felt pretty prepared for this test.  Of course there are areas that I am scared of because I just do not have a lot of experience in that field, such as pediatrics and psych.  I feel that my school and job as an aid did an excellent job preparing me for this one life changing test.  I had to take a HESI test after each 9 week course of school and also had to pass the HESI in order to graduate from college.  The HESI is basicly a practice exam for the NCLEX to see if  you are ready to take boards.  I passed the HESI with flying colors, even though while taking the HESI I was sure I had failed miserably because it was so awful.  So, basicly for the past couple months while waiting to take the NCLEX I have answered at least 1,000 practice questions from my Saunders books and CDs.  At this point most of the questions seem easy, hopefully that is a good sign.  For the most part everyone tells me how hard the boards are, so I’m scared that these questions I have been practicing are still too easy.  Anyway, I’ll keep plugging away, studying the only way I know how.  I take the test Tuesday morning in Indianapolis.  Please pray for me during and after the test while I wait anxiously for the results.

October 7, 2007 at 3:48 am 1 comment


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